Cory Doctorow and I Narrate "The Wonderful Wizard of Oz"

…along with 299 other people. (Cory Doctorow, thanks for lending your celebrity to this blog post!)

Lend Your VoiceAs anyone who read “Do-It-Yourself Audiobooks” knows, I’m in love with the sound of my own voice. (The problem is finding other people who love that sound, too.) Give me a microphone and a script, and I’ll narrate anything. Heck, I’ll narrate the back of a box of breakfast cereal. I’m worse than Morgan Freeman. Before I headed off to Washington, D.C. for ALA’s Annual Conference, Mary Burkey, who calls herself an audiobook addict but is really an audiobook pusher, suggested that I stop by OverDrive’s Digital Bookmobile and check out the “Lend Your Voice” promotion.

Digital Bookmobile in DCRandom House Audio, in partnership with OverDrive, was recording a “community-sourced” audiobook of L. Frank Baum’s The Wonderful Wizard of Oz using the vocal talents of everyday people. Given that they parked opposite the convention center, the everyday people who stopped by to lend their voices included a fair number of librarians — and famous authors, too. Sure, it’s a nice opportunity for the sponsors to reap some free publicity (there’s a charity angle, too), but the crowd-sourcing angle seemed fun. And then there was the lure of the microphone . . . .

After getting a quick tour of the digitalaudiobookmobile from a nice, technically oriented young man, I got the lowdown on the recording process from Katherine Fleming, a publicist at Random House & Listening Library. My heart leapt in anticipation as she pulled out my page of the script — would I get a chance to voice the Scarecrow, the Tin Woodman, or the Cowardly Lion? Would I be required to cackle on behalf of the Wicked Witch of the West? — and then sank when I saw it. One paragraph. Three sentences. Eighty-eight words. I took it to be a chapter ending but, this morning, I found it located near the beginning of Chapter Three.

But, hey, it’s for charity. And I’m a professional. (Not an professional narrator, of course, but a professional all the same.) So, after demanding a bottle of room-temperature spring water, I cleared my throat and narrated.

Fortunately, they let me do two takes. Here is what take two sounded like.

And, for your listening pleasure, a diverse array of other voices: Cory Doctorow, Roy Blount Jr., librarian Kathryn Sanders, and Henry Sleeman (age 9). If you ask me, young master Sleeman knocks it out of the park.

You’ll be able to download the finished project, which will include 301 voices of famous people, not-so-famous people, and yours truly, in late August at both First Book and OverDrive.



About the Author:

Keir Graff is Executive Editor of Booklist Publications and the author of five books. His most recent is the middle-grade novel, The Other Felix (2011). Follow him on Twitter at @Booklist_Keir.

6 Comments on "Cory Doctorow and I Narrate "The Wonderful Wizard of Oz""

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  1. Mary says:

    Well, I guess I win THIS arm-wrestle 😉
    I got to read three characters in my turn at the Lend Your Voice mic, including Lion & Scarecrow – AND I nailed it in one take. But sadly, I didn’t get to fulfill my dream of being a Flying Monkey. I had hoped to erase my lifelong terror of those creepy creatures by some sort of audio therapy. But the dreams still persist…

  2.' Joel says:

    This article makes me want to dust off those 179 cassettes you gave me of yourself reading “War and Peace.”

  3. Keir Graff says:

    Strange that they were dusty in the first place.

  4.' Sondy says:

    I’ve read the books to both my boys (now nearly grown) when they were small, so I really enjoyed the chance to read a page. I was especially thrilled that Grace Lin (who won a Newbery Honor Award that night) walked in after me, so my reading will come right before hers. I was so excited, I messed up the first take of the person reading before me. (I nailed it in one, I might add…)

  5. Keir Graff says:

    Rub it in, Sondy, rub it in. And Mary…

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